EUGENE — First-half defensive lapses around the basket helped put Oregon State down 21.
But so did nine turnovers that Oregon turned into easy points on the other end.
A slow start Saturday that coach Wayne Tinkle blamed on a lack of energy and focus proved to be too much for the Beavers in a 66-57 loss to rival Oregon in the 350th Civil War men’s basketball game at Matthew Knight Arena.
“I think it was directly what we weren’t doing offensively and we gave up 17 points off of turnovers. I think that’s what it came down to,” Tinkle said, adding that his players responded to a halftime challenge from the coaching staff. “But that’s too big a hole to climb, down 16 on the road.”
Oregon State’s defense has allowed the Beavers (11-9, 3-5 Pac-12) to keep games close, particularly in conference play, even when the offense wasn’t producing at a regular clip.
But Saturday’s first half saw deficiencies with both, and Oregon State dropped its 12th-straight Pac-12 road game dating to a win at UCLA to end the 2015-16 regular season.
Still, the Beavers didn’t go away after a disappointing first half that saw them trail by 16 at halftime.
The Ducks (14-7, 4-4) maintained that margin five minutes into the seocnd half before Ethan Thompson single-handedly got OSU back in the game with seven straight points to trim the deficit to nine.
Stevie Thompson’s steal led to a transition dunk by his brother on the other end, making it 46-37 with 10:39 left.
It was as close as the Beavers had been since midway through the first half. Oregon State held Oregon scoreless for more than minutes but was unable to fully take advantage.
The Ducks pushed the lead back to 14, but the Beavers got it to nine on Tres Tinkle’s three-point play with 6:35 remaining. OSU was within eight twice in the closing minutes, the second time on Stevie Thompson’s layin with 3:22 remaining.
But Oregon State just couldn’t find the firepower to get any closer, and Oregon salvaged a conference split.
The Beavers found their defense and held the Ducks to just 6-of-25 shooting in the second half. That put Oregon at 21 of 47 overall, just ahead of Oregon State (21 of 48). The Beavers were 3 of 17 on 3-pointers and the Ducks 5 of 18.
“It’s kind of easier when you’re down by double digits to play aggressively and play hard. It’s less pressure on you because you’re already down,” said Stevie Thompson, who had a team-high 16 points.
Ethan Thompson added 13 points and Tres Tinkle 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Oregon’s Elijah Brown scored 18 of his game-high 20 points in the first half. Teammate Paul White added 17.
Oregon State forward Drew Eubanks finished with four points on 1-of-3 shooting, down from his 12.7-point average entering the game. It marked the second straight contest that he’s attempted just three shots while playing a combined 53 minutes.
Eubanks was a pivotal piece in the Beavers’ 76-64 Civil War win in Corvallis three weeks earlier, scoring 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting with eight rebounds.
“It’s always two-fold. We’ve got to get him the ball, but he’s got to stay in the paint,” coach Tinkle said. “Sometimes it gets frustrating as a big, and I know it, where if you’re not getting it you try to go seek it. But we’ve got to have our bigs in the paint.”
Eubanks added nine rebounds, equaling his high in a conference game this season, along with two blocks, two assists and a steal.
Oregon State was looking for its first series sweep of Oregon in eight years.
That looked to have potential as the Beavers scored nine straight points, the last five by Stevie Thompson, to take a 9-5 lead.
But a majority of the rest of the half belonged to the Ducks, who worked for open shots and had the Beavers confused and frustrated on the other end.
Oregon answered OSU’s offensive spark with a 22-2 run that covered more than seven minutes.
The Beaver defense, which was tops in scoring and field goal percentage allowed in Pac-12 games coming in, couldn’t keep the Ducks away from the rim. Oregon had a 22-10 advantage in points in the paint in the first 20 minutes.
Oregon State, which trailed by as many as 21 in the first half, got four points from Eubanks in a 9-2 run late in the half and trailed 41-25 at the break.
Oregon shot 65.2 percent in the first half, easily the highest percentage allowed by Oregon State this season. The Ducks were 15 of 23 from the floor and the Beavers 9 of 19.
Oregon State sophomore forward Ben Kone did not play after an emergency dental procedure. He was with the team Saturday but did not suit up.